The ongoing upgrading of Makutano-Kacheliba-Konyao Road into bitumen standards is set for completion this March with residents hailing the government for the implementation of the multi-billion project in West Pokot County.
Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) Resident Engineer Edwin Mutai told Regional Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (RDICC) hosted by the West Pokot County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (CDICC) that the Sh3.06 billion worth road whose construction commenced in 2017 was 90.7 per cent complete with the remaining final touches expected to be finished in March.
He said that even though the contract period has elapsed, the contractor who is actively on site has applied for a contract extension for one year to complete the remaining parts.
The road connecting the North Pokot areas was characterised by a rough terrain but is now turning into a smooth drive that users say would be taking them less than one hour from Kapenguria Town to Konyao unlike the several hours it took before.
Mutai attributed the delays to the suspension of works by the contractor for six months in 2019 and the failure by the Kenya Power Company to relocate identified power poles affecting the works.
“The contractor is carrying on with the works with satisfactory progress achievement. They have asked for a time extension citing delays caused by the Covid-19 regulations that saw them slow down their activities although we are yet to respond to their application,” said the resident engineer.
The committees led by the West Pokot Deputy County Commissioner Kennedy Lunalo challenged the contractor to ensure the recommended standards of the road were adhered to.
The committees noted that there were some sections of the already tarmacked areas that had developed potholes and called on the engineer to ensure the contractor reworked them.
The 80kms road is already covered with tarmac between Makutano areas through Kacheliba to Konyao market.
Julius Mnangat, a resident in Konyao, lauded the government for the upgrading of the road saying once completed, it will spark numerous development activities in the semi-arid zone known for livestock production.
“This area is largely known for livestock production especially sheep and goats and farmers have started reaping some benefits from an improved market. Most of the time, farmers are forced to sell them at throw away prices because of transportation hitches,” he explained, adding that the area has been prone to shortage of food supply because of the poor road network.
Mnangat added that the road used to be impassable especially during rainy seasons which results in heavy flooding.
“This place (Konyao), whenever it rains, is usually impassable but with the tarmac road one is now assured of uninterrupted travel through. We are looking forward to the extension of the tarmac through Konyao to Alale which is the border town for increased cross border trade,” he appealed.
The residents have noted that the building of a modern bridge across Suam River at Kacheliba would offer a permanent solution to the repeated flooding of the river cutting off transport.
By Richard Muhambe